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Showing posts from 2016

Golf Course War Machine- No Boundries Theatre, Cardiff

"Wales? I thought that was a town in England"
Raise your hand if you're from Wales and an American has said that to you...
One of Chris Harris' spot on observations about being Welsh, and the world and Welsh in the world in 'Golf Course War Machine'. The play follows Pippa, a 24-year-old from Tredegar staging a one woman protest on a roundabout in Newport.
It's 2014 and the eyes of the world are on that roundabout, or at least just up the road from it, as the NATO summit is in Wales, and the leaders of the free world are assembled in the Celtic Manor hotel. 
Pippa starts to tell her story. She may be hungover, slightly relying on Wikipedia and waiting for the rest of the protest to join her, but she's not going to let the opportunity to make her voice heard and put Wales on the map. So waving a Welsh flag at Obama's helicopter will be her Tiananmen Square. Harris expertly weaves his political commentary expertly with storytelling that reveals s…

City of the Unexpected (A Choir-eye-view)

As a member of Sororitas choir, based in Cardiff, I along with many other choirs across the city and beyond were invited to take part in a ‘Mass Choir’ as part of the City of the Unexpected. So after learning the songs (two newly written pieces and some medleys) and one slightly mad rehearsal with everyone, we were being set loosen the city of Cardiff along with the other performers.
The point of the event, as organisers kept insisting was the ‘unexpected’ but as choir performers we were kept at the castle (not unlike the prisoner Mr Fox) and missed out much of the early action. So mainly relying on rumour and, well Twitter, we discovered the peach had indeed landed and was heading in our direction. Eventually we heard it (who knew a peach would be so loud?) accompanied by a marching band and a band of protesters, we spotted the giant fruit heading our way.

The peach slowly arrived and was tethered to the front of the Castle, presumably to stop it escaping and causing more havoc…Ac…

Groundhog Day-The Old Vic

If this was my actual Groundhog Day I'd happily spend hundreds of days there. The new musical from Tim Minchin manages to be both utterly uplifting as well as emotionally affecting.
For those who missed the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, it follows cynical weatherman Phil Connors, who is sent to report on 'Groundhog Day' which is, yes a real thing where folklore says that if a Groundhog comes out and sees his shadow on February 2nd there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Oh and for anyone wondering what exactly a Groundhog is, this is what one looks like: 

It's a large Marmot, a relation of the squirrel. Also known as a Woodchuck. 
Now we're all up to speed on our small mammals and the film Phil begrudgingly reports on the Groundhog happenings, only to find himself stuck waking up on Groundhog Day seemingly forever. 

Trapped in a small town purgatory, Phil is angry, then elated, then suicidal until he finally as he says 'gets it' and starts trying …

No Man's Land- Cardiff

Pinter plays can be a frustrating experience, the infamous pauses, the obtuse writing, it can be a fascinating evening but also a frustrating one if executed poorly. Of course there was no real fear of poor execution from two masters of the stage in Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Their double act, supported by fine work from Owen Teale and Damien Molony lifts this more obscure Pinter into something accessible and enjoyable for even the most Pinter-wary. 
It is an atmospheric production, with projections of trees reaching beyond the imposing living room set, and a soundscape of birdsong. Stephen Brimson Lewis through his set design gives an imposing presence to the house that Patrick Stewart's Hirst inhabits. With high walled rooms and huge windows that are left curtained for much of the time, to the wing backed armchairs and hard wooden seats, Hirst's world is drawn around him. The costumes too, also by Brimson Lewis, serve to create this particular slice of the world. Stewa…

The Entertainer- Garrick Theatre London

*Disclaimer, I saw this while it was still in previews so this review comes with the caveat that it was not the offcial finished product.

The Brannagh season at the Garrick comes to a close in style with John Osbourne's classic 'The Entertainer'. When curating the season it seems a fitting finale for Kenneth Brannagh, who takes on the fading song and dance man Archie Rice.

Osborne's play is a dual reflection on the demise of the Music Hall and the demise of Empire, with the Suez crisis as a backdrop to the ailing career of Rice. It is on one hand a fascinating insight, and look back, on the other elements of it don't quite hit the right notes any more.

Osborne's men in general, where once rang fresh and new, sometimes feel hollow, self involved and of their time and misogynistic. This is no reason to stop reviving these plays, they are still important works with much to think about, even if with time the things we think of when watching Osborne shift from the …

Never going to be good enough...on 'artists' and being terribly lowbrow.

I've come to the realisation I'm just not...something. You see all the words I want to use to fill in that sentence feel insulting, wrong. I could say 'clever' but clever is relative. I could say 'artistic' or 'high brow' they seem more fitting. But it still feels insulting. What it boils down to in both trying to be a part of the arts and academia is I'm not what people consider 'high brow' enough. I'm a little bit common, a little this what the cool kids mean by 'basic'? Do the cool kids even say 'basic' anymore?

See this is my problem. I don't like the cool stuff. I don't like the sophisticated stuff. I don't like the artsy stuff that we're supposed to revere.

This becomes a problem when trying to be a part of anything artistic, but also something I encountered in academia as well. You're not an allowed to be a writer/artist of any kind of you don't like the 'right' stuff and yo…

Romeo and Juliet-Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's best known plays, and particularly for those of us who were teenagers in the 90s a certain film version is more than etched into our minds as well. Personally speaking as well this was, by pure accident rather than design, the third Romeo and Juliet I'd seen in a month. 
Within minutes any fears of this being a 'by the numbers' version of the play were quickly dispelled. Co-directors Mark Modzelwski and Jack Paterson have created an innovative approach to the play. It's a dark, production that brings out the more disturbing streaks often glossed over for the easier romantic elements of the play. 'Easy' also isn't something you would use to describe the production-the audience is asked to work as well by challenging them to engage with an alternative look at the text. 

The elements are all there, the warring families, the glamourous moments, the fights, and of course the lovers. But it's a world that might not b…

'Allo 'Allo - Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

Last night saw the second show in Cardiff Open Air theatre, classic comedy 'Allo 'Allo. Now if nothing else, I think we can all agree we need a good laugh right now, and the company don't disappoint on that front.

Staging classic sitcom 'Allo 'Allo on stage has elements of both blessing and curse for any actors. On the plus side, you know the material is already a hit, on the negative, it's already been a hit on television and that can be a tough act to follow. The cast rise to that challenge admirably, and the audience respond warmly to familiar characters and catchphrases while the cast breathes new life into familiar characters.
For those unfamiliar, 'Allo 'Allo was a BBC sitcom which ran between 1982-1992. Set in World War Two in a small town in occupied France where Rene Artois runs a cafe. When not running a cafe he is in turn helping the resistance, hiding clueless British airmen, helping hide stolen artworks and generally being involved in mu…

Into the Woods- Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival opened in style with Sondheim's classic Into the Woods last night. It is a visually spectacular production which makes brilliant use of the fittingly wood-filled backdrop. And the large and impressive cast taking on one of musical theatre's most challenging scores. 

Into the Woods is Sondheim's twist on fairy tales. From Cinderella to Red Riding Hood to Jack and the Beanstalk, these stories are mixed together and mixed up from the familiar Disney versions. The first act is familiar, the Baker and his wife, on a quest from a mysterious witch, are seeking things that only familiar fairytale characters can give. They need a cow as white as snow, a coat as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper of gold. This leads them to cross paths with Jack, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella. In the process Jack ends up with his magic beans...something that never ends well as we all know. For the first act it does all end well. The witch&#…

Romeo and Juliet-Taking Flight Theatre

Continuing the outdoor theatre theme from the last post, it's time for Taking Flight theatre's annual outdoor Shakespeare production. Starting in the lovely Thompson's Park in Cardiff and going on to some of Wales' most beautiful parks and castle grounds (oh and even one in Bristol this year!) the annual Taking Flight Shakespeare tour would be a delight simply for the backdrop, but there's much, much more magic involved. 

This year is the turn of the classic love story Romeo and Juliet, where the ill-fated lovers are given a 1960s twist. Set in Verona College (and Verona Ladies College) the warring Montagues and Capulets show their rivalry across the schools (and an annual boat race!). The performance moves around the outdoor space, the performers guiding the audience and often engaging with them, making everyone feel a part of this version of ‘Fair Verona’.

Everyone feeling a part of the production is key to Taking Flight’s ethos, an inclusive theatre company-in te…